To protect your liberties, it is crucial that you understand your constitutional rights. One constitutional safeguard is against “unreasonable searches and seizures,” under the Fourth Amendment. Your privacy cannot be violated, except under very specific circumstances. Police must have your express permission, probable cause that you committed a crime, or a warrant to search you, your belongings, or your property. They can then seize any contraband items, such as guns or illegal drugs. They can use this to charge you with a weapons crime or a drug crime. A prosecutor can then use these seized items as evidence against you. If the search for or the taking of any of this proof was illegally done, however, then the objects found cannot be kept as evidence.
There are many instances, however, where the 4th Amendment does not apply. For example, the Constitution only protects your privacy when there is reason to expect privacy. If an officer sees a gun in the front seat of a car, he or she needs no further justification to seize that weapon. Now, if cameras were installed in a public restroom, then there is a very reasonable expectation of privacy that is being violated, and the Fourth Amendment would come into effect in this case. If a suspect claims that he or she believes the front of their car is private, however, this will not hold up. This is not a societally recognized expectation of privacy, and the Fourth Amendment would not protect this individual from having something taken from their front seat.
It is also important to note that this law only offers defense from government intrusion. Private security officers are not bound by the Fourth Amendment. So if non-government security person acts on a baseless suspicion, searches someone, and finds weapons, this can be used as evidence.
That being said, the Fourth Amendment offers very real protection. If it is discovered that the police committed an illegal search and seizure, then whatever evidence they found in the search and any evidence based on those illegal finds, can be thrown out of court. For example, if police used an illegal search to find a map to where stolen money was stashed, and they find the money based off of this, both the map and the recovered funds cannot be admitted in court as evidence. This may not necessarily dismiss charges, but it can significantly reduce the prosecution’s ability to present a case. This is a constitutional safeguard that just may be able to defend your freedom.
When you need to protect your constitutional rights, our team of criminal defense attorneys in Delaware, Ohio can fight for you. We personally investigate and scrutinize our clients’ cases. If you need help defending against criminal charges or upholding your rights, please do not hesitate to contact The Law Offices of Brian Jones, LLC.